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Ruth : Penguin Classics - Elizabeth Gaskell

Paperback Published: September 1997
ISBN: 9780140434309
Number Of Pages: 432
For Ages: 18+ years old

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A fallen woman sympathetically portrayed would seem a less-than-ideal choice as the central focus of a Victorian novel. Yet despite her own misgivings and fears of public censure, Elizabeth Gaskell created just such a portrait in Ruth (1853), the book that followed her highly successful debut novel, Mary Barton. Overturning the conventional assumption that a woman once seduced is condemned to exclusion from respectable society, Gaskell draws a heroine whose emotional honesty, innate morality, and the love she shares with her illegitimate son are sufficient for redemption. Ruth is at heart a romance, and Gaskell employs the conventions of the genre to limn the nineteenth-century world of women and family -- a world in which love, religion, and the devotion of friends provide a haven from the cruelty of Victorian morality's hypocritical "double standard".

About the Author

Elizabeth Gaskell was born in London in 1810 but spent most of her life in Cheshire, Stratford-upon-Avon. She married the Reverend William Gaskell and had four daughters by him. She worked among the poor, travelled frequently and wrote for Dickens' magazine Household Words. Mrs Gaskell was friends with Charlotte Bronte, and consquently went on to write her biography.


Thoroughly unmodern, not in a good way.


If you're into long and wordy exhibitions of Victorian morality then this is the novel for you. The characters never emerge as more than caricatures of common players in the era's morality scene, which effectively strips them of any relatability in the modern reader's mind. This is a shortcoming that subverts the entire novel's purpose; that is, as an attempt to elicit Christian sympathy from the audience in regards to Ruth's actions. Ruth is a novel very much of its time, and Gaskell (unlike the Brontes, or Dickens) does not make the transition into modernity with success. That said, it is a brilliant example of the sort of Christian ethical literature that so enchanted the Victorian market, and for that reason alone I would recommend it.

Sydney, AU



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Introduction Ip. vii
Note on the Textp. xxi
Select Bibliographyp. xxii
A Chronology of Elizabeth Gaskellp. xxiv
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p. 11
p. 31
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Explanatory Notesp. 459
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780140434309
ISBN-10: 0140434305
Series: Penguin Classics
Audience: General
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 432
Published: September 1997
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.9 x 13.1  x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.29
Edition Number: 1

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

About the Author

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson (29 September 1810 - 12 November 1865), often referred to simply as Mrs Gaskell, was a British novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to social historians as well as lovers of literature.

Visit Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell's Booktopia Author Page

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